With the 28th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints have selected Payton Turner, Defensive End out of the University of Houston. The Saints ended up with having multiple positions available due to how the draft played out. Several talents went far ahead of mock drafts and Payton Turner is one of those. The Saints had the choice of many players but ended up with a defensive end which was graded in the second round in a lot of mocks. The surprising pick naturally presents many winners and losers for the Saints and the NFC South.
Saints draft Payton Turner, EDGE in the first round
Speculation run rampant in the day leading up to the first round. Rumors of the Saints possibly trading up to the top 10 for a pick swirled around the team going into the draft. Ultimately, the Saints did not end up trading up. No name has surfaced of who the Saints were targeting but it’s rumored to be one of the top cornerbacks, both who were gone by pick 10. Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain went a bit higher than most speculated. Ultimately, the Saints end up taking a defensive end with a huge upside. Turner is 6’5, 270 pound, with a big wingspan. His size and strength are NFL-ready but his technique will need to be polished in the NFL. A player of this caliber is sure to have the Saints nation talking so let’s examine the impact of the Payton Turner selection at pick 28 in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Winners of the Payton Turner Selection
The most obvious winner of the Payton Turner selection is Cameron Jordan. Jordan is entering 12th year in the NFL. His experience can help further Turner’s development as well as give someone else in the Saints defensive front rotation. The less wear on Jordan’s body over the course of the season, the better the Saints will be come playoff time.
Another winner will be the Saints incredibly thin secondary. Payton Turner, of course, does not play safety or cornerback, but an effective pass rush can cover up for the coverages or mistakes. If Turner can replicate any of the success that Trey Hendrickson had, the Saints defensive front will be an issue for teams in the 2021 season. With the exits of Janoris Jenkins and the legal trouble of Marshon Lattimore, the Saints will need to address their cornerback issues at some point this off-season. There are many corners still on the board in Day 2 of the NFL draft. The first day draft of Payton Turner helps the secondary though, no matter how thin.
Losers of the Payton Turner Selection
The most obvious losers for the New Orleans Saints has to be Marcus Davenport and Carl Granderson. Davenport’s fifth-year option was picked up recently, but Turner coming into the Saints organization is an immediate threat to Davenport’s play time. Davenport has been a disappointment since he was selected 14th overall before the 2018 NFL season. He has until the end of the 2022 season to prove his worth. Granderson has been training hard this off-season getting ready to take his turn at defensive end for the New Orleans Saints. When Trey Hendrickson exited for the Cleveland Browns, it left a position available opposite of perennial staple Cameron Jordan. Granderson is not a scrutinized as Davenport but will still lose play time with the addition of Payton Turner.
The next loser of the Saints drafting Payton Turner also made the winner section. The Saints secondary is both winners and losers of this draft pick. The Saints are incredibly thin at cornerback going into the 2021 season and chose not to address the hole in free agency, yet. The NFL draft is incredibly deep at cornerback so it is possible, and likely, that the Saints can find a good one in day 2. Only judging off of round one though, the Saints secondary remains a trouble-area for the team.
The last loser of the Payton Turner draft pick is the NFC South quarterbacks. The Saints pass-rush was great in 2020 with the emergence of Trey Hendrickson. Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, and now Sam Darnold probably felt as if the Saints pass-rush was going to be easier to deal with in 2021 going into this draft. If Payton Turner, Marcus Davenport, Carl Granderson, and Cameron Jordan can bring high level of play to each game in 2021, the Saints could be back in contention for the NFC South title.
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